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May 11, 2014

Cellphone use getting more restrictive in New England

New England states crack down on cellphone use, distracted driving


”The hand-held cellphone ban appeared to save upward of 70 to 80 lives and prevent about 5,000 injuries during the two years following implementation of the law,” the study reported.

And that’s the ticket, as far as public safety and law enforcement officials are concerned.

Shapiro responded to those who say the new law won’t be any more enforceable than the current law.

“It surprises me people think it will be difficult to enforce,” he said. “So, if you see it going on all around you, how is it they think police won’t be able to see it?”

The delay between the bill’s passage and its enactment allow police and other public safety officials time to educate the driving public, N.H. State Police Col. Robert Quinn said. And it gives drivers time to purchase whatever equipment they might need for hands-free device use and, frankly, to get used to the idea.

“This law will prevent them from hurting themselves or somebody else,” Quinn said.

Cultural change required

People will have to change their behavior.

Drivers are distracted behind the wheel 25 percent to 50 percent of the time, a Governors Highway Safety Association report said.

Plymouth Rock more recently conducted a distracted driving survey of 3,300 Northeast drivers. More than half the drivers reported using a hand-held cellphone. Massachusetts topped that list, with 58 percent of drivers, but New Hampshire was close behind with 52 percent.

The numbers were lower for text messaging, but 45 percent of drivers in both states who admitted texting said they did so weekly.

Most drivers knew better.

Ninety percent of Massachusetts drivers surveyed said they were aware of the texting ban. Just 62 percent of Granite State drivers said they knew the law.

Knowledge of laws regarding hand-held devices was much worse. Just 11 percent of New Hampshire drivers and 19 percent of Bay State drivers acknowledged they knew the law.

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